'American Made' Lawsuit: Tom Cruise Movie Producers Sued for Fatal Plane Crash

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 25, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Perhaps anyone signing on to work on a Tom Cruise film might expect it would be a 'high-risk, action-packed motion picture.' But a new lawsuit claims the star and producers of American Made took the film's flying sequences too far, alleging "the demands of filming in Colombia, together with Cruise's and director Doug Liman's enthusiasm for multiple takes of lavish flying sequences, added hours to every filming day and added days to the schedule."

That lawsuit was filed by the estates of two pilots that were killed in a crash during the filming, a crash the suit claims could've been avoided.

"The Most Insane S***"

Although Cruise and Liman are not named defendants in the lawsuit, the allegations leave some of the blame for the crash at their feet. According to the suit, an executive producer allegedly emailed an insurance company relaying his concerns. "DL [Liman] and TC [Cruise] [are] adding entire scenes and aerial shots on the fly," the email reads. "Had to bring in Uni Safety to help wrangle them. In the last 48 hours this has become the most insane s*** I've ever dealt with."

The pilots were concerned as well. Alan Purwin, who along with Carlos Berl perished in the on-set crash, allegedly sent an email to that same executive producer, calling the film "the most dangerous project I've ever encountered." The suit charges the film's producers Imagine Entertainment, Vendian Entertainment, and Cross Creek Pictures with wrongful death.

So Many Suits

A third man, Jimmy Lee Garland, a partner at S&S, was also injured in the crash and left without feeling in the lower half of his body. And the suit against the production companies is far from the only litigation over the crash. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, the estates of the dead pilots are suing each other, and the insurance company is claiming it shouldn't be on the hook for damages:

The various parties have disagreed about who was piloting the plane. Berl's lawsuit states unequivocally that it was Garland, while Purwin's suggests it was Berl. Garland also worked as Cruise's double in the film. Producers wanted the plane in Medellin when it was being shuttled and the crash happened. The families of the dead had previously suggested that a rushed production contributed, while Great American Insurance Company states in its own lawsuit that the aircraft may have been flown illegally without proper certification or license.

The production companies have also filed their own claim for indemnification, contending S&S was negligent in "failing to properly inspect, repair, maintain and ensure airworthiness of the Subject Aircraft" and "failing to operate the Subject Aircraft in a safe manner, including, but not limited to, failure to provide adequate pre-flight preparation, briefing, instruction, training and supervision to the pilot in command."

Thus far, it seems, Cruise himself has avoided any claim of liability for the crash.

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